Symbols become outdated

fearless.jpgArtist Arturo Di Modica, who sculpted the statue “Charging Bull” in New York City, appears to be rather disgruntled by all of the attention its new neighbor “Fearless Girl” has attracted to the popular location on Wall Street since her controversial placement on March 7 of this year.

Although the statute has received plenty of positive recognition from the public, Di Modica is livid and is tak­ing his concerns to court.

As reported by NBC News, Di Modica believes the new sculpture violates his rights as protected by the Visual Artists Rights Acts of 1990. He also believes Fearless Girl’s placement was “copy­right infringement and dis­torted the meaning” of Charging Bull. To resolve the issue, Di Modica would like to see Fearless Girl removed, or at least relocated.

Charging Bull was crafted in Di Modica’s studio in 1989. He crafted the sculpture to recognize the courageous spirits solidified in American history. His website claims the sculpture celebrates America as being the place people all around the world may come regardless of their origin or circumstance, and through determination and hard-work overcome every obstacle to become success­ful. A similar message, writ­ten in 1883, can be found on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore…”

At this point in my research of Charging Bull I felt: “Sure, I can identify with this mas­sive creature on Wall Street.” But then, as I kept reading, I was instantly turned off.

Most importantly, his web­site reminds us the bull also symbolizes virility — or the strength, energy and sex drive of a man. A word I was not familiar with until I defined it with an easy Google search. Almost instantly, I felt dis­connected as I read these words specifically needing to be defined as “in a man.”

I learned after the crafting of this nearly 4-ton bronze beast in the late 1980s, Di Modica and his friends decided to locate the massive sculpture on the doorsteps of the New York Stock Exchange in the early morning hours. The sculpture was quickly removed by authorities and relocated to its current loca­tion at Bowling Green Park in New York City.

Many years later, however, on the Eve of International Women’s Day of this year, Charging Bull met his young, 250-pound new neighbor. Fearless Girl was crafted in 2017 in recognition of compa­nies that invest in women for senior leadership roles. Some critics, Di Modica included, have claimed her placement to be an advertising trick.

The location at Bowling Green for many years has been an iconic tourist attrac­tion in New York City, a photo opportunity for many visitors. We are all very grateful to Di Modica for his contribution to the city’s artistic history. However, he also needs to understand it is no longer the late 80s and his artwork is no lon­ger relevant. It is time he let a newer generation receive more recognition. Perhaps Di Modica should create a more relevant piece of artwork in the future.

An animal boasting of ego­centrism and virility can lon­ger be representational of Wall Street, New York City. And although a Charging Bull may have been symbolic almost 20 years ago, it has been challenged. We will no longer allow industries to identify and symbolize pure­ly on masculine energy.

There are new kids on the block, and no court should protect this 7,100-pound creature. Just as Di Modica believed a bull was symbolic of this location in its time, we now believe a little girl can be symbolic artwork for this moment in American history.

Di Modica may think his argument will hold up in court. His attorneys claim there are “copyright and trademark” issues that must be considered. Some believe they can find a mutual agree­ment. However, this conflict cannot be resolved by the relocation of Fearless Girl.

The little statue on Wall Street has steadily become a popular tourist attraction symbolizing gender diver­sity. And yes, Di Modica, we are sorry that your dated sculpture is no longer receiv­ing all the attention on Wall Street. But today, without Fearless Girl, the Charging Bull is insignificant. And in the blink of an eye it can become just another bull statue sent to the West side of the country.

The statute addresses gender diversity and recognizes those who make a meaningful differ­ence improving from past mis­takes. By relocating this symbol­ic piece of artwork, we would be neglecting Kristen Visbal, sculpture of Fearless Girl, of her artistic rights as well. Di Modica needs to swallow his pride and embrace his competition.

Rather, if he cannot put his ego aside, I believe Arturo Di Modica should take his outdat­ed sculpture elsewhere. Nor do I believe Visbal should pay a penny for any monetary dam­ages. If Di Modica cannot settle on this deal, then perhaps he should rethink the symbolic meaning of his 1980s piece of work. Even better, he could find words other than “viril­ity” to describe the artwork on his website. Or maybe he should find another location for his masterpiece.

Arturo Di Modica needs to back off, or another more courageous animal will be forced to stand alongside the Fearless Girl in the argument against this artist. Perhaps it will be a lion or a tiger. Maybe even a bulldog.

Originally published in the Western Courier by freelance writer Victoria Hall.

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